CRYSTAL LAKE – Considering what was at stake, Evan Hying understood his shot didn't have to be a work of art.
The McHenry senior defender knew if he could manage to push a shot into the back of the net, providing the Warriors defense a goal to work with for the next 13 1/2 minutes would likely be enough.
Hying's goal with 3:30 remaining in the first of two overtime periods proved to be the difference as top-seeded McHenry held off No. 4 Jacobs, 1-0, in a Class 3A regional semifinal victory Tuesday that propelled the Warriors into Saturday's championship game at Crystal Lake South.
McHenry (11-8-3) will face either Cary-Grove or Crystal Lake South. The Trojans and Gators square off in Wednesday's regional semifinal match.
"Obviously, we had to get (a goal) or we're done with the season," Hying said. "So the urgency keeps going up and up as the time got closer to expiring. You just have to keep working and working and we'll get one."
Hying's goal came off an assist from Mark Simon, who took a feed from Carlos Duran off a 50-50 ball. Simon's first instinct was to set Hying up for a shot – hoping to end an 87-minute scoring drought during which both McHenry and Jacobs had scoring opportunities, but couldn't finish.
Once Hying scored, making it stick suddenly became the only thing standing between the Warriors and a berth in Saturday's championship match.
"There was a lot riding on that goal," Simon said.
Despite falling behind, Jacobs (6-12-1) still had 13 minutes to come up with the equalizer. The Golden Eagles gave themselves chances to score in regulation, including on solid second-half looks by Jake Blankenship and Cristian Guzman. They had one last series of chances in the second 10-minute overtime, but couldn't finish.
"It's definitely a different mindset not being golden goal," Jacobs coach Anthony Cappello said. "You've got to find a way to re-motivate yourself and play out that last 13 minutes. We knew we had to get some more numbers up the field and play with a little more desperation. It didn't have to be pretty. We just had to get on some 50-50 balls and find a way to get it in net."
Instead, it was McHenry that turned a 50-50 ball into the game-winner, advancing in a evenly matched regional tournament in which the Warriors know their top seed means little – if anything.
"It's going to be another tough challenge for us on Saturday," McHenry coach Tony Caruso said. "We're not going to score a lot of goals on anybody, but if we can scrap out another (win) on Saturday, we'll be happy."